This week, Múinteoir Emer joined the team at Home School Hub in order to get the country moving. As the nation's PE teacher, Emer will be bringing daily movement into our routines as well as teaching kids about hydration, diet and the importance of exercise.

We caught up with the Bray woman to find out more about her career, her Black Lives Matter campaign, the importance of diversity on Irish TV, and how she plans to keep kids moving through lockdown.

Congratulations on your new job! Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm from Bray - born and raised - and I played basketball for Ireland. I went over to America on a scholarship when I was 18 and I played basketball there and got my degree in Physical Education. I came back to Ireland in 2014, after being away for 10 years, and I started teaching and coaching here.

I have a nine month old baby girl and I have a six year old son as well. I'm actually on maternity leave from my school at the moment - I'm a Transition Year coordinator and PE teacher - so I was able to join the Home School Hub, and I was over the moon when I was asked.

You sound like you keep a busy schedule?
It's the story of my life! My daughter was 10 days old when I spoke at the Black Lives Matter rally in Bray. Since the day she's been born, I've been doing a lot of activism. At the moment, I'm working with the INCO to develop a professional development course on anti-racism for primary school educators, and I worked with Olympics Ireland on one of the modules that they are handing out to primary and secondary schools in the coming months.

I also started a Black Lives Matters group in Bray and we have a campaign called Bray for Love. It started because when I was speaking out about racism in Ireland and I was targeted - my name was graffitied on walls in my home town and my house was egged. 

We started a campaign and got all the businesses in Bray to put stickers up on their windows to show solidarity. We've been working on an anti-racism workshop for primary and secondary schools, and we've created an anti-racism policy for schools and we hope that by the end of the year, schools across Ireland will have their own policies in place.

How do you feel about being a role model to kids?
It's huge. I was speaking to one of the women who does the set design here, she's mixed race as well, and we were saying how much we would have loved Home School Hub and After School Hub growing up. I would have looked up to me. I would have loved to have seen someone with the same skin colour as me or the same hair as me.

I never had that, nor did she, so I'm so happy to be that person for kids of colour in Ireland. I think it's so important because our representation isn't there. I'm hugely grateful to RTÉ for taking that step because it's imperative. It's a no-brainer in 2021 that we have a diverse range of presenters on Irish TV channels that represent true Ireland as it is now.

Are you happy to see physical education being prioritised in this lockdown?
Definitely. I always feel, specifically in Ireland, that PE gets put on the backburner sometimes. When you think about kids' mental health, exercise is so key even when it comes to sleep, energy and retaining knowledge. Now that they don't have school to go into, PE and sport can go out the window and seeing a face stuck into a phone is becoming the norm - I'm a mum of two so I get it! 

I watched HSH with my son in the first lockdown and I loved it, it really broke up the monotony of the day and allowed me to get some work done while it was on. They did do PE classes but I'm so glad that it's now going to be every single day because kids need to get activity every single day. It's crucial to be reminded to getup and go and not to be sitting on the couch all day.

How did your first day go? What has the reaction been?
When I got onto my phone after filming, I had been tagged and mentioned in all these Instagram posts because parents had been taking photos of their kids doing the exercises with me on the screen in the background. My heart was full, I was so thrilled. Knowing that I'm helping get kids a bit of activity is amazing, that's pretty much what I've dedicated my life too - fitness, health and mindfulness. I hope that it's going to be beneficial to families.

I want everyone in the house to get involved to have a bit of bonding time, to get out of the office for a few minutes to jump around - we all need a bit of fun. The most important thing is that we have people from all walks of life getting involved. You could be in an apartment or maybe you're all in one room so the most important thing is that it's accessible for everyone no matter where you live. It doesn't cost anything and you don't need any equipment.


Home School Hub
RTÉ's Home School Hub and After School Hub air on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player every day, between 10am and noon, offering a helping hand to parents as the country copes with COVID-19 restrictions. 

At 3.20pm, After School Hub has daily activities ranging from music lessons to science experiments, dance classes, art and crafts, and books and culture. All corresponding worksheets, podcasts and third-party content will be housed here and can be watched back on the RTÉ Player.

An Irish Sign Language version of the programme will air on RTÉjr on weekdays at 1pm and an ISL programme, After School Hub Best Bits, airs on Saturday and Sundays at 6.05pm on RTÉjr from 16 January. All ISL versions of Home School Hub are also available on RTÉ Player.